Telegraphing–Is it a bad thing?


My wife and I recently saw “The Wolfman” with Benicio Del Toro and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  The production design and costuming were superb; the music was effectively moody; the special effects were, of course, exquisite; and the acting was passable for a Gothic Romance.

As we usually do after a movie, we casually discussed our impressions.  my wife was the first to comment that Sir Anthony’s character of the father seemed to be ominous right from the beginning and somehow responsible for the actions in the film.  I felt he was totally unlike Claude Reins in the original, a distraught and depressed father fighting for the soul of his son.  Anthony Hopkins had wild white hair and mannerisms more in tune with his character from “Legends of the Fall” that you couldn’t help but KNOW that he was sinister in nature.

That did not ruin the film for us.  There was still too much that was good.  But it did get me to thinking of the genre in which I primarily work: crime, mystery, and suspense.  Is telegraphing automatically a bad thing?

I reflected on two television shows from the 1970’s, serial mysteries of an episodic nature.  In “Columbo” starring Peter Falk, the crime was outlined and witnessed in detail by the audience at the very beginning.  The killer was known to all.  The detective showed us in similar detail the manner in which he determined who the killer was.  “Banacek” starred George Peppard as a high-class insurance investigator who took on the unsolvable cases for a substantial percentage of the return of the insured goods.  His cases were deep and sinister and all but forgotten by legitimate law enforcement.  You never knew who or how until the very end.

I remember being impressed by both shows, primarily because of the stars and the nature of the characters.  I wasn’t a mystery writer then but had I been I may not have had the ability to differentiate my level of appreciation.  They both held a fascination for me.

So perhaps the labeling of a story as a “mystery” or “suspense” or “thriller” is largely designed to be for marketing purposes and less about the story that is being told.  The emotion generated by the writing should mean more that whether or not it is a solvable puzzle or an intellectual investigation in detection.


  1. jenniferneri said,

    February 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I normally enjoy films with Del Toro and Hopkins both. I want to see this one…

    Funny, I only watched Columbo as an adult. Labeling genre’s is such a difficult thing I find, and it can really vary from person to person.


  2. nerd said,

    July 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    It’s awesome to go to see this web site and reading the views of all mates about this paragraph, while I am also zealous of getting knowledge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: